April = AwakeTeams Road Trip Month

April 26, 2022

Daylight savings time, spring in the air, a new partner joining the business—what better way to kick off the new month than by heading out on a road trip!? In-person events are back and after two years of pandemic-induced isolation and business conducted in Brady Bunch rectangles on a screen, the pent-up demand for human connection “in 3D” is palpable. It is particularly poignant for AwakeTeams—created and launched during the pandemic—to revalidate the power of person-to-person connection, acceptance and belonging, which underpins the value proposition of our product.

The ASU+GSV Summit did not disappoint! About 5,000 delegates convened for the marquee EdTech conference at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, in real life and in full force. AwakeTeams was selected this year as one of the GSV Cup Elite 200 “world’s most innovative edtech startups.” More than 175 judges from leading venture capital firms and strategic partners in digital learning used the GSV Five P's framework (People, Product, Potential, Predictability, and Purpose) to determine the 200 most promising companies across EdTech from “pre-K to gray.”

“To receive this kind of external validation for our proprietary AwakeTeams workforce learning and development product is extremely gratifying,” says Laura C. Wells, Founder & CEO of AwakeTeams. “At a time when employee retention is at an all time low, employers are in urgent need of development tools that create team cohesion and belonging. Our model works at both the individual and team levels to embed the behaviors that create connection, include all voices, and drive performance. There is so much creative and innovative thinking in the learning space now and we are absolutely delighted to be a part of the ASU+GSV EdTech ecosystem.” 

We attended as a team with Founder Laura Wells, recently-joined business partner and Head of Business Development, Anne Friberg, and Advisor Mads Lillelund. This first stop on what became an AwakeTeams roadshow offered great bonding time for us as a team while we also expanded the community around AwakeTeams. We were able to connect with many mission-driven startup founders, startup investors, and EdTech experts. The GSV Cup team did a wonderful job of organizing the event generally and also curating special events for the Elite 200 companies. 

AwakeTeams Advisor, Mads Lillelund, says this about the Summit: “This year’s ASU+GSV Summit was a great introduction to the broader learning community which has always been a passion of mine. The event brought fantastic startups from around the world together with prominent leaders across government, education, policy, to legendary investors like John Doerr and thought leaders like Thomas Friedman, who is always in a perpetual learning mode. 

“The selection of AwakeTeams as one of the GSV Cup Elite 200 “world’s most innovative edtech startups” is a testament to how far AwakeTeams has come in a very short time. Focusing on Future of Work, AwakeTeams is one of the first companies driving a team-based, data-driven approach to employee “soft skills” development and the excitement around the technology, capability and market opportunity was palpable. It is especially exciting since the team already has their first customers on board with a funnel that is growing exponentially. 

“In the age of the ‘Great Resignation’ this selection to the Elite innovators list is driven via the realization of the nominating committee of the powerful way that AwakeTeams develops soft skills with hard data.”

Launching into her first week of full-time work at AwakeTeams, Anne Friberg, Head of Business Development describes her experience: “Coming from a peer-to-peer learning environment at NeuGroup, where most of the events took place in person for the majority of my tenure, making connections ‘IRL’ was a feeling I was happy to reacquaint myself with. The parallels in my old and new positions were striking: being surrounded by people on a mission to create a supportive ecosystem of learning and growth all while bringing an innovative new business idea or model to market. 

“The well-organized Summit was a great door-opening experience into my new role at AwakeTeams. The speakers and panel discussions were excellent and all the curated networking opportunities forged new connections that will accelerate my and AwakeTeams growth. I got to learn and practice my elevator pitch in accelerated fashion and was delighted by the enthusiastic response and interest in AwakeTeams, both for the development of teams and businesses.”  

After the ASU+GSV Summit, the ASU connection continued: Laura and Anne met at the Thunderbird School of Global Management (Mads is a T’bird alum, too), now under the ASU umbrella. Next on the road trip was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the school, with the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the brand-new state-of-the-art international business school in downtown Phoenix. A perfect opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. 

Now that we are a “t’bird startup”, many of our classmates were intrigued to learn more about what we are building at AwakeTeams. We feel sure there are future collaborators and supporters in the mix!

Next stop landed us back in the San Francisco Bay Area. In-person startup events are finally and slowly opening up here as well. AwakeTeams was selected as one of the Startup Grind Global 2022 Accelerate “startups to watch” and we enjoyed the invitation to dive deeper into this Silicon-Valley based startup ecosystem as well. We met a lot of innovative founders and startup supporters who came from all over the world to attend the two-day event at Fox Theater in Redwood City, CA. Everyone was thrilled, if perhaps slightly over-stimulated, to be meeting in live, 360-degree fashion. 

This event was followed by our final stop on the road trip: the Tech Crunch Early Stage conference in San Francisco proper. This event was organized as a learning event for early stage startups across industries and sectors. We met some new people dedicated to investing in early stage companies as well as many other dedicated entrepreneurs. 

“We are still working on our follow-ups but have already had numerous follow-on conversations and look forward to deepening the new connections made,” said Laura C. Wells. “It does take a village to raise a child, and an early stage startup has a strange way of feeling like a child. This whole trip greatly expanded our village, increased cohesion on our team, and further accelerated our AwakeTeams launch.”

AwakeTeams launched into market with our first paying Fortune 500 customers in late 2021. Working through the initial 3-month trust module, these initial teams are seeing strong improvements in engagement, belonging, and team performance overall. We check in with our customer partners with each generation of the monthly progress report and are collaborating closely to integrate their input into our next iterations. 

One of the team leaders says this about the initial 3-month AwakeTeams program: 

“There is no road map in the working world on how to be a successful leader or how to work most efficiently with a team. These sessions allowed me to start to identify where my own weaknesses are and gave me tools to use moving forward to continue to grow and be better in both roles.”

We are delighted with the impact AwakeTeams is beginning to have in workplaces. All the recognition and exposure of the past month has us poised for a new phase of growth. To all the people we met with, received feedback from, and created new connections with, thank you for being a part of our learning and growth at AwakeTeams. 

As we move into May, we look forward to closing our next contracts with customers and further building our pipeline with both growing SMEs and large enterprise customers. Please reach out to learn how to bring AwakeTeams into your organization. We will be delighted to share our first results with you and explore how we can drive team cohesion and performance in your organization.

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